Let's clear one thing up, deodorant and antiperspirants are NOT the same thing. Antiperspirants minimize perspiration (sweating), by blocking sweat ducts and preventing the underarm from purging toxins. Common antiperspirants found at your local store contain carcinogens that can be harmful when large amounts are absorbed by the human body.
Aluminum: Aluminum in the body can disrupt the breast cell estrogen receptors, increasing the risk of breast cancer. According to Dr. Harold Burstein from the American Cancer Society, “To date, there’s absolutely no evidence that breast cancer is caused by exposure to anything in antiperspirants or deodorants, full stop” (The New York Times). However, a study in 2003 sent a questionnaire out to women who had a history of breast cancer and the results showed "women who were diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age said they used antiperspirant and started shaving their underarms earlier and shaved more often than women who were diagnosed when they were older." (American Cancer Society). This study is widely criticized as the study did not include a control group of women who did not have a history of breast cancer.
Carcinogens: While the body's natural absorption of aluminum through the armpit is still debated, there is evidence that applying deodorant after shaving (chance is increased if you nick yourself) can increase the absorption of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).
Parabens: Parabens are a chemical preservative used in many types of make-up and skin care products. The absorption of Parabens into the human body is possible and too many parabens increase your risk for breast cancer (WebMD). Studies show that Parabens have weak estrogen-like properties. Estrogen is a female hormone shown to cause breast cells (both normal and cancerous) to grow and divide, and many conditions that increase the body's exposure to estrogen have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Triclosan: This antibacterial chemical is used in antiperspirants and deodorants to kill the germs on your skin that cause odors. However, it is an endocrine disruptor, so it may also act like hormones your body produces naturally, therefore interfering with your body’s natural hormonal signaling (WebMD). Triclosan has also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The FDA has since banned its use in hand soaps, but it may still be an ingredient in your antiperspirant, which is why reading a product's ingredients is so important (WebMD).
Phthalates: This ingredient is common in many kinds of cosmetic and skincare products including antiperspirants. It’s a chemical that allows other ingredients to be flexible and also extends the life of any added fragrances. Phthalates are a concern as it is believed they may disrupt your endocrine system, especially in males (WebMD). Phthalates may also lead to an earlier onset of puberty in young women, which has been linked to an increase your risk of breast cancer later on in life (WebMD).
Diethanolamine: This ingredient may be listed as DEA on labels and is considered a carcinogenic product, which means it increases your risk for cancer (WebMD).
Butane and Isobutane: These are gases that help propel aerosol spray antiperspirants from their canisters. They are restricted in the U.K. and Canada because they have been linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity (WebMD). However, they are approved for use in the U.S. (WebMD).
Fragrance: Be careful with this ingredient. Fragrances are made up of hundreds of microscopic ingredients that add up to a single smell. Due to them often being considered proprietary or secret, the ingredients aren’t listed on labels and instead simply say "fragrance" (WebMD).
Aluminum and it's link to Alzheimer's Disease:
A study published in 1973 concluded that, "...aluminum induces neurofibrillary degeneration in neurons of higher mammals. Aluminum concentrations approaching those used experimentally have been found in some regions of the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease." (Science).
See my next post about my personal experience switching to natural deodorant.